Running shoes are, without a doubt, the most important piece of equipment a runner will ever purchase. We take a look at the different types of shoes available.
Their most obvious function is in protecting the foot, however getting the right shoes will also help to prevent injuries, improve comfort and possibility even enhance performance!
Not all Running Shoes are the Same
The right shoes for one person, will more than likely not be the right shoes for someone else! There are many different shoe manufacturers out there, with many different models. How do you know which one is right for you? Well, the most important thing is to know what kind of runner you are and what foot type you have.
When it comes to buying running shoes, you will no doubt hear the words pronation and supination. These are natural movements of the foot, which everyone does to some extent when they run and walk. The problem comes when the foot over-pronates, or over-supinates (sometimes known as under-pronates).
Pronation is where the arch of the foot flattens and the foot rolls inwards as you walk or run. Over-pronation means that too much of this motion occurs. Excessive pronation also causes an excessive inward rotation of the lower leg, knee, and even upper leg, possibly causing overuse injuries such as Achilles tendinopathies, plantar fasciitis and shin splints.
Supination is the opposite movement to pronation, causing the arch to rise and foot to roll outwards. Over-supination can also cause injuries, mostly because this causes the foot to be very rigid and so lacking in shock absorbing capabilities.
When in the market for running shoes, especially your first pair, you need to determine what happens at your feet when you run. There are many ways of doing this, but the best bet is to have a gait analysis. This involves a trained individual observing your feet and how you move, sometimes filming it so they can slow it right down!
So, now you know what foot type you have, but where does this come in when buying your running shoes? Well, different shoes are available to meet the requirements of different runners.
Types of Running Shoes
Motion Control Shoes
Motion control shoes are designed for people who overpronate. They are heavier and have a rigid arch support to help decrease movement of the foot.
Cushioned running shoes are designed for the runner with a neutral foot. This means they do not excessively pronate or supinate. These shoes provide a mix of arch support and cushioning.
Stability running shoes are designed for people who oversupinate, as they provide the extra cushioning and shock absorbing that this particularly rigid foot requires.
Of course, there are other things to consider when buying a running shoe. Width, fit and comfort are probably the most important. The general advice is to buy a pair of shoes half a size larger than your normal shoe size to allow the foot to move. However, this will vary slightly as sizes are different from one manufacturer to another.
Similarly, some manufacturers produce wider shoes than others and so if you know you have a wide foot, make sure you have enough room. Try lots of different brands and choose the best fit. Often, when you have found the right shoe for you, you will stick with this brand in the future!